If you’re feeling confused about the benefits of social media marketing,  uninterested or if you lack subject matter knowledge that’s OK. A lot of your peers feel the same way. Research on the effectiveness of social media marketing is mixed. Check out this recent chart by eMarketer and Ad-ology.

Again, it’s OK. Anything relatively new is bound to have mixed results.

For me, I’ve learned a long time ago that a few marketing best practices are to pay attention to new trends, don’t always follow the crowd, be an early adopter of new technology and to “fast fail” in my efforts.

I fall in the 16% of those who find that social media marketing helps me drive leads, stay up to date with industry shifts and competitive intelligence. And, like any form of exercise, the more you do it, the better you become.

For me, lead generation has been my biggest benefit of social networking driven by the thought leadership of my  Blog and showcasing our good works.

Small businesses rated Facebook the most beneficial social networking site, but I’ve found LinkedIn to be as effective and I’m surprised YouTube isn’t ranked higher.

We use YouTube a ton for Web site storytelling, email marketing, product demos, and customer testimonials and find it incredibly effective. You get out of things, what you put into them.

My recommendation with new technologies to clients is to set up a small team (or you take the reins by yourself) responsible for executing a plan and challenge them to understand the subject matter better, jump into it, experiment and lead.

Don’t believe your customers aren’t into social networking, because all research points to the fact they are and your next new round of younger customers are already fully immersed in it.  Or, aren’t you interested in surviving and thriving in the next decade?

Everyone’s busy and no one has the time for anything new that’s a fact – but, another fact is that you need to find the time, because these technologies aren’t going away and consumer use will continue to grow via new technologies that make it easier to understand, access, and use on a daily basis.

Can you say, “IPod, IPad and Smart Phone?” I Thought so!

Get on the bus and enjoy the ride!

Sources: eMarketer, Ad-ology, Citibank